'Smart' controller one way to save money on water bill

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CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Sometimes a high utility bill can make or break the bank, and with summer coming, everyone wants to save on their water bill.

"My average bill in the summertime roughly would be $90 a month, and roughly I'm averaging around $73 a month," said SRP employee Joseph deGraft-Johnson. "It's a significant amount. It actually pays for itself."

He installed his smart irrigation controller, which has weather and rain sensors. You can also input details, such as the types of plants you have and the depth of your soil, to control how much you water and when. He got the normally-$300 device at a discount because he bought it at SRP's expo and then he got a rebate.

"I filled out the form and sent in the receipt, and within 40 days I was able to get a check from the city of Chandler," deGraft-Johnson said.

"It measures the amount of rain so it automatically calculates how many times you can bypass a watering," said Leeann Yacuel with SRP.

She said over the past seven years, about 3,300 smart controllers have been installed, saving about 250,000,000 gallons of water.

We asked several cities in the Valley for the number of water bills exceeding $500 last summer. Chandler, Glendale, and Tempe all came in under 200, but Scottsdale had almost 2,000 bills exceeding that amount, and Phoenix said it was more than 9,000.

"It saves at least 20 percent more than a traditional controller," Yacuel said.

"Conserving water is something we all need to do so being able to irrigate less is a great advantage on that," deGraft-Johnson said.

SRP is holding a course on how to install and use these in June.

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